Advertisement
Advertisement

8 Count Pleased With Fonfara’s Performance, Progression

By Jake Donovan

From the moment it was announced that Glen Johnson would be taking on Andrzej Fonfara on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights earlier this month, all talk focused on how much the old road warrior had much left in the tank.

On fight night, the majority of the conversation focused on Johnson’s performance. Once the decision was announced, Johnson continued to dominate the boxing news outlets, whether it was discussing the fact that he lost or that he decided to retire shortly after the fight.

Lost in the shuffle was the fact that Fonfara actually won the fight. So much focus was on the former light heavyweight champion, that few in the sport took notice that a new star was born in the Chicagoland area.

“I thought the show was well received,” said a pleased Dominic Pesoli, whose 8 Count Productions company has promoted Fonfara since he arrived in Chicago from his native Poland. “I anticipated a good turnout, especially from the Polish community. A lot of people thought we were crazy for putting him in against Johnson, but Andrzej made all of us look like geniuses.”

Fonfara managed a unanimous decision in the evening’s main event, marking the first time in more than a decade that Johnson decisively lost outside of world title fights. It was enough to convince the old veteran to call it a career, of the belief that he needs to move on if he can no longer win fights on this level.

Exactly what level that is remains an unanswered question. Fonfara is now unbeaten in his past 13 fights, including 10 straight since taking his 6’2” frame up to the light heavyweight division.

That Fonfara is now fighting at a weight more in line with his body structure has proven to be a huge difference in his career. The rail-thin Polish boxer suffered two defeats within an eight-fight span earlier in his career, including an embarrassing 2nd round knockout loss to Derrick Findley on ESPN2 in July’ 08. Little to nothing was thought of his career potential, other than as a future opponent.

Four years later, a legitimate light heavyweight prospect has developed – possibly even a light heavyweight contender in the very near future.

“It’s two completely fighters when you talked about the fighter I first signed to the one I have now,” Pesoli said of Fonfara’s career progress. “Years ago, Sam Colonna (noted trainer in the Chicago area who serves as Fonfara’s chief second) told me this kid is a beast. I’d watch him fight and wondered where he was getting this from.

“But that was when he was still fighting at 147 early in his career. Even at 160, he still looked out of place. Once he got to 175, it was more a natural body weight level for him. It’s a big difference.”

As he listened to the passion exuded by the 6,000 or so in attendance at the UIC Pavilion, Pesoli couldn’t help but think about how far his fighter has come along at the box office as well.

“Andrzej has turned into a one-man franchise,” Pesoli states, with the gross receipts to back up that claim. “He legitimized himself into a future world champion. When we first started, he was lucky to sell a single ticket. In the past 5-6 years he grew his fan base to what it is now.

“After the Johnson fight, his fan base will grow even larger. He’s now a legitimate Top 10 contender.”

Pesoli was well aware that Fonfara needed this win to prove that very point. The 24-year old looked the part, but needed the breakout opportunity in order to convince the masses.

The same could be said of stablemate Ivan Popoca, who fought on the undercard. Popoca was coming off of 15-month layoff and a knockout loss to Ruslan Provodnikov, but still makes for good theatre, which was why he was granted the televised co-feature slot. A date with faded former lightweight champ Jose Luis Castillo appeared to be the perfect opportunity to win and look spectacular.

Oops.

Castillo offered a turn back the clock performance, dropping Popoca early and drawing blood from cuts over both eyes in consecutive rounds. Popoca fought back valiantly but was eventually stopped in eight rounds.

Despite the upset loss in the co-feature, Pesoli didn’t seem concerned about throwing either of his kids in over their head. Fonfara proved that point in the main event, an outcome that hardly surprised him.

“The first 4-5 rounds against Castillo would be dangerous for Ivan,” Pesoli believed all along. “But I didn’t think (Castillo) had the wherewithal to go the full ten. The way Ivan fights, I thought he would pick it up in the end. I was proud of Ivan’s effort. Even in the loss, he showed tremendous heart.

“The truth is that I thought both of my guys had a chance. They were intended as step up fights but came at the right time. I wasn’t shocked that Andrzej beat Glen Johnson. I know the other side was pretty confident that he was too much for my kid, but I felt otherwise. Of course, I kept that to myself, as I didn’t want (Johnson’s team) questioning why I was confident my guy would win.”

The trick now is where to go from here with Fonfara’s career. Another televised date would be ideal, though not entirely realistic. ESPN2 Friday Night Fights ends its 2012 season in mid-August, while HBO and Showtime have become selective in the promoters with which it has done business.

Because Chicago remains an overlooked fight market, Fonfara and his handlers are now faced with the dilemma of going idle while awaiting a big fight, or staying busy though against competition that would mark a step backward from what he accomplished earlier this month.

“We don’t want to go backwards, but we also strategically have to think about what’s next. ESPN has expressed interest in having him back on. We’d love to be back on but the reality is that it won’t happen until they return next year.

“There have been preliminary offers by the (Beibut) Shumenov camp but nothing concrete. There are not a lot of guys left that make sense. If you look at the guys above him in the major rankings (Fonfara is rated #10 in Boxingscene’s light heavyweight rankings), none of those guys would take that fight. It doesn’t make sense for them to fight him.”

All that can be done in the meantime is develop Fonfara into a big enough star to where he can call his own shots. The career progression in the ring and at the box office suggests he’s well on his way.

“I was incredibly proud of Andrzej’s performance and the crowd that turned out,” Pesoli states. “Sam Colonna designed a terrific fight plan. Glen is a closer and Andrzej has only been 10 rounds twice. There were questions about his chin. He fought at a weight he couldn’t make (early in his career), but had a lot of heart and potential. We’re looking at another fight or two before fighting for a world title.”

Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox

Tags: Andrzej Fonfara image  
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by nycsmooth on 07-31-2012

as they move him vs better opposition as vs Glen, who only fought in spurts...when Glen punced, he connected, especially w/ the right...he's 2 yrs away from fighting Ward/Froch etc...

Post a Comment/View More User Comments (1)
Top Headlines Glen Tapia Ready For David Lemieux, Feels A lot Stronger at 160 Bute Wants the Winner of DeGale-Jack Unification Fight Photos: Anthony Crolla vs. Ismael Barroso Open Workouts Examining the James DeGale-Porky Medina Scorecards Hearn Wants Joshua to Become Pay-Per-View Star in America ALA Promotions Prez: Magsayo Will Never Be Another Pacquiao De La Hoya Breaks Down Speed vs. Power Fights of The Past Curtis Stevens on The Trainer Switch To John David Jackson Team Verdejo Bring in Nutrionists, Sports Psychologists For 6/11 DeGale: I Showed Medina Levels, He Doesn't Deserve Rematch Garcia: If Golovkin Will Face Floyd at 154, Then Face Canelo at 155 Magdaleno To Apply Pressure For Nonito Donaire Title Shot Tommy Coyle Calls To Avenge Luke Campbell KO Loss Video: Hearn Talks Judging Issues in Boxing, Crolla vs. Barroso Amir Khan Followed Strict Diet Switch For Showdown With Canelo Video: Hearn Excited About Mayweather vs. Matchroom Card Shane Mosley Makes Heroic Rescue Of Baby in Freeway Wreck Video: Eddie Hearn Talks DeGale vs. Jack, Smith, More Garcia: Amir Khan Will Not Be an Easy Fight For Canelo "Fighting Words" - On Francisco Vargas’ Positive Drug Test Bute on Jack Draw: I Started Too Late Yet Again Matthysse To Sit Down With De La Hoya in Vegas, Discuss Future Mayweather, Hearn in Talks For TMT vs. Matchroom Card Video: James DeGale on Mayweather, Hearn Rift, Jack, More Video: Callum Smith Breaks Down DeGale-Medina, Jack-Bute Jack-Bute CompuBox Punch Stats Video: Badou Jack Feels Robbed, Looks To The Future Thomas Williams: I Want Adonis Stevenson Next, I Want His Belt! Mayweather's Trademark Filings Could Be Biggest Hint of Return Porky Medina: Badou Jack is Better Than James DeGale Della Rosa, Attou Battle To a Draw For Vacant EU Title Ellerbe Blasts Scoring for Badou Jack-Lucian Bute Video: James DeGale Shakes Head at Rogelio Medina Outing Bute Encouraged by Jack Draw, DeGale Loss: I'm Not Quitting Medina: I Spit at DeGale Because He Was Head Butting, Elbowing Video: Malignaggi on Mayweather, Canelo-Khan, Ward-Kovalev Video: Rogelio Medina Sounds Off on James DeGale Loss Mayweather: Chocolatito is The Pound For Pound Best in The World Video: Lucian Bute Reflects on Jack Draw, Discusses Future April 30 PBC on Fox A Smash Hit In Ring, But Not In the Ratings
Advertisement

Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement